You have packed up your dorm room, said your farewells, and trundled back home for the summer. But once you are here, away from your friends and surrounded by boxes you do not want to unpack — what now?
After a year of college, it seems like you have changed so much; college molds and changes your identity. Yet everything here has stayed the same. While you met new people and plunged into classes, it was sometimes difficult to consider the outside world moving at a slower pace and not changing as much. Still, the world kept spinning even as yours flipped upside down — and now that you are back home, you do not know which way is right side up.
Returning home from college for summer break is one of the strangest feelings I have ever experienced. With my freshman year over, this is the first time I have crammed suitcases into the trunk to head home after my last final. During the exam period, the thought of summer was tantalizing; it was the light at the end of the semester. But now that I am finally here, it feels like summer is a sort of limbo.
I remember waiting for summer break to arrive in middle and high school — the excitement quickly developed, me initiating a month-long countdown on the remaining school days. The anticipation was palpable in the school hallways and classrooms; the air felt like summer and freedom and possibility. However, the end of the college year felt different. Maybe because not everyone finishes on the same day at exactly the same ring of the bell; maybe because it involves packing up an entire room instead of just cleaning out a locker. Or maybe because in high school, you could not wait to race out the doors and away from the school year — but in college, school is so much more than academics. It includes your friends, who you live minutes away from. It involves your classes, which despite their workload, you actually find interesting. It comprises of any club or organization you join, whose members give you a second family.
Of course, there are so many good aspects to living back at home. Spending time with family. Seeing old friends. A reliable Wi-Fi connection. During the school year, so many memories float to the back of your mind, and you do not realize that you missed certain things until you have them back. After spending two semesters in a college bubble, it is no wonder that the summer feels a little strange. But eventually, you settle into a routine; just like at college, daily routine makes a place feel normal.
So what now? Maybe, like me, you have also gotten sick the first week of your summer. After the stress and nonstop commitments of college life, now that you are home and more relaxed, your body does not know how to handle the slowdown. How can it be that you are well-rested and eating regularly? Thus your body reacts to your vulnerability the only way it knows how: it gets sick.
Or maybe you have also driven to places that hold memories of your past, places that used to be — and probably still are — important to you. I found myself driving around town just to be on the familiar roads, because as lost as I sometimes feel at college or in figuring out the future, I will always know where Main Street will take me.
On coming home for the summer, I have realized that home can signify different ideals. Home is where my family is. Home is where my friends are, where the roads are familiar, where I feel comfortable. So maybe what summer teaches you is that home exists in more than one space — it can be college and the place you return to for the summer, wherever that may be.